Global business leaders like British billionaire Richard Branson are reassessing their ties with Saudi Arabia following the disappearance of a dissident writer after visiting its consulate in Istanbul. (Photo by THE ASSOCIATED PRESS)

Global business leaders suspend ties with Saudi Arabia

LONDON — Global business leaders are reassessing their ties with Saudi Arabia, stoking pressure on the Gulf kingdom to explain what happened to a dissident writer who disappeared after visiting its consulate in Istanbul.

British billionaire Richard Branson on Friday suspended business links with Saudi Arabia, and Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi said he might not attend a major investment conference in the country this month amid reports that Jamal Khashoggi may have been killed at the Saudi consulate in Turkey’s capital.

“What has reportedly happened in Turkey around the disappearance of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, if proved true, would clearly change the ability of any of us in the West to do business with the Saudi government,” Branson said in a statement.

Branson, founder of Virgin Group, says he will suspend his role as director in two tourism projects in Saudi Arabia while an investigation takes place. He also is putting on hold discussions about a proposed Saudi investment in space companies Virgin Galactic and Virgin Orbit.

Saudi Arabia is facing increasing international pressure to clarify what happened to Khashoggi, a Washington Post columnist, with U.S. President Donald Trump and British Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt among those demanding answers.

Khosrowshahi is scheduled to speak at the Future Investment Initiative conference, which takes place Oct. 23-25 in the Saudi capital, Riyadh. The event also lists JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon, Blackrock Chairman Larry Fink and U.S. Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin among dozens of expected speakers.

“I’m very troubled by the reports to date about Jamal Khashoggi,” Khosrowshahi said. “We are following the situation closely, and unless a substantially different set of facts emerges, I won’t be attending the FII conference in Riyadh.”

Other leaders, such as Joe Kaeser, the president and CEO Global of German industrial giant Siemens AG, were still planning to attend — for now.

“We are watching the situation very closely and for the time being his participation is still planned,” said Robin Zimmermann, Siemens’ head spokesman.

The Financial Times, which is listed as a media partner to the event, announced it would no longer be doing so.

“The Financial Times will not be partnering with the FII conference in Riyadh while the disappearance of journalist Jamal Khashoggi remains unexplained,” Finola McDonnell, the head of communications, said in a tweet.

CNN cancelled its partnership, and said its anchors and reporters would no longer moderate panels. The New York Times and its business columnist Andrew Ross Sorkin similarly pulled out of the event. CNBC also said Friday it would not participate.

By The Associated Press

Just Posted

Break-in at Red Deer business

Social media reports confirm a business break and enter in Red Deer… Continue reading

‘Rough waters’: Spill raises new questions about fast-growing N.L. oil industry

ST. JOHN’S, N.L. — Newfoundland and Labrador’s ambitious plans to dramatically expand… Continue reading

Trudeau rules out snap election call, national ballot slated for Oct. 21

OTTAWA — Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says there will be no early… Continue reading

Canadian firm says it has found largest diamond ever unearthed in North America

YELLOWKNIFE — A Canadian mining firm says it has unearthed the largest… Continue reading

Man from Olds killed in collision near Sundre

A 39-year-old man from Olds was killed in a collision near Sundre… Continue reading

WATCH: More than 100 protest UN migration pact, carbon tax in Red Deer

Chants of “Trudeau must go” echoed through the streets of downtown Red… Continue reading

Man who demolished landmark house ordered to build replica

SAN FRANCISCO — A man who illegally demolished a San Francisco house… Continue reading

Giuliani: ‘Over my dead body’ will Mueller interview Trump

WASHINGTON — With a number of probes moving closer to the Oval… Continue reading

Quebecers criticize western oil but buying more gasoline, SUVs, bigger homes: report

MONTREAL — Quebec’s premier is quick to reject “dirty” oil from Western… Continue reading

Speaker Geoff Regan opens the door to his apartment in Parliament

OTTAWA — One of the best-kept secrets inside the main building on… Continue reading

Baloo the cat is back at home after being mistakenly shipped to Montreal

HALIFAX — Much to the relief of his loving family, Baloo the… Continue reading

‘It’s what we do’: Famous Newfoundlanders help replace veteran’s stolen guitar

ST. JOHN’S, N.L. — Two famous Newfoundlanders stepped in to help an… Continue reading

Quebec’s anti-corruption unit blames media coverage for recruiting troubles

MONTREAL — Seven years after it was created, Quebec’s anti-corruption unit is… Continue reading

Former PQ cabinet minister poised to become next Bloc Quebecois leader

MONTREAL — It appears likely that Yves-Francois Blanchet, a former Parti Quebecois… Continue reading

Most Read